Maintaining Roots: How HACE is Creating a Culture that Promotes Homeownership in Hispanic Communities
running-a-business | Read Time: 3 minutes
By WSFS Contributor | Published: March 2022
Maria Gonzalez works every day to ensure people aren’t displaced.
As President of Hispanic Association Contractor Enterprises (HACE), Gonzalez’s goal is to not only create affordable housing in North Philadelphia, but to create home ownership opportunities that address the needs for the Hispanic community.
“We see home ownership as an opportunity for wealth building and stability, so families can grow roots in these neighborhoods,” said Gonzalez.
Those roots grow deep, back to the 1970s and 1980s, when the Spring Garden area of North Philadelphia served as home for the largest concentration of the Hispanic community in the city. Because a bulk of this population was renting at the time, they were largely displaced to other neighborhoods. “Gentrification is coming,” Gonzalez said. “Our work gives people a chance to own a piece of their neighborhood without getting pushed out.”
HACE was founded in 1982 in response to the very real needs of Philadelphia’s Latino community. At that time, there was not much support for Latino-owned businesses in the Philadelphia area, particularly in housing. After starting with community development projects, Gonzalez and HACE began working towards developing affordable rental housing that would address the actual needs of the community, about 50% of which were below the poverty line.
HACE’s newest project aims to create true equitable housing to support families that need a “boost” to become homeowners and not get pushed out. The Goodlands Trust Modular Housing Project is HACE’s first foray into modular home construction. After considering other options, HACE chose to leverage modular building to minimize costs, therefore creating more opportunities for first-time homebuyers. “There are a lot of upfront costs with modular construction, but there is a lot of control within where the property is made,” explained Gonzalez. “It doesn’t matter if it’s raining or if there are other environmental factors that could impact a build, like mold. Modular gives us the opportunity to be more intentional in providing opportunities to people who may not have bought their first home.”
The property is part of a land trust, donated by Philadelphia Land Bank. Since the housing is being built on land that is within a land trust, it will be controlled, meaning the land trust has first right to purchase. However, there is also a requirement to sell to another low-income family, creating more opportunities to preserve this neighborhood.
To better navigate this (often challenging) environment, Gonzalez and HACE partnered with WSFS, which has experience in modular home construction financing as well as mortgage lending. As Gonzalez states, “Having a partner like WSFS that understands community development, that understands the intricacies of the regulations and also knows the builder, that really was very helpful in us being able to get that construction loan and really solidified that partnership.”
“Under Maria’s leadership HACE is not only providing the Latino community with affordable housing, they are also improving homelessness and taking back control of their community,” Salvatore J. Patti, Senior Vice President, Director Commercial Banking and Wealth Management, WSFS Bank. “Philadelphia is a city of neighborhoods and we want to keep that foundation.”
The Goodlands Trust project will provide 20 units of home ownership housing. There are numerous programs first-time homebuyers in Philly can take advantage of to help them achieve their goal of ownership, including free housing counseling through the Urban League of Philadelphia and the WSFS Neighborhood Opportunity Program. More information on buying a home for the first time can be found in our Knowledge Center.
Craig Williams, President and CEO of Pride Enterprises Inc. and American Power Electrical Supply Company, has more than 30 years of experience in construction management, getting his start by working for his uncle when he was home from college. After earning his Bachelor’s degree in Business Management from Syracuse, Williams helped his father cultivate and develop his own construction business, eventually founding Pride in 1996 and American Power in 2018.Read More
Dana Spain is known for many things, from her work in publishing to animal welfare and her charity work for Veterans’ causes. She has led a circuitous career that began in commercial real estate with her family’s retail chain that has led her back to commercial properties since 2013 with a myriad of her own projects. Most recently, Spain–now Managing Member of her latest endeavor, Spain Development Group–has been designing multi-family properties ranging from rehabs, stick-built, and eventually modular. “Once I got into modular construction systems, I stayed there because it was an epiphany and now I advocate all the benefits of modular and won’t build any other way,” Spain said.Read More
Wilmington, Del. has been a hub for industrial innovation and activity for more than 350 years. When William Bancroft opened the Bancroft Mills along the Brandywine River in the early 1900s, Wilmington quickly became home to hundreds of workers. Bancroft, the founder of Woodlawn Trustees, was a major advocate for affordable housing and one of the first in the area to develop this type of community residences for his employees and their families – which later expanded even beyond Bancroft employees. He felt that he had an obligation to provide housing and thoughtful development to the area – bringing to life what Wilmington locals know today as The Flats.Read More
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Philadelphia has been serving youth since 1887, when the Germantown Club first opened its doors. Since then, the organization has expanded, providing quality programming to youth in neighborhoods across Philadelphia. Its mission: to enable all young people, especially those most in need, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens. Over the past 134 years, The Boys & Girls Clubs of Philadelphia has grown to 21 clubs throughout the region’s most impoverished communities and the dedicated staff, volunteers, and partners work together to impact more than 9,600 young people each year.Read More
We first started HLI Rail and Rigging and Mars Transformers in the tri-state area, moving turbines, generators, large portions of bridges, and even buildings by ocean, barge, rail, and large and small trucks. If something heavy needs to be moved, we are the team to do it. Since then, we have scaled our business and now operate across North America. An important part of this growth was finding the right business partners. Just as important as your accountant, machine equipment or computer systems, is the right banking partner.Read More